The Grumman Hellcat was the most successful Naval fighter of World War II. This really isn’t even close.
Yet ironically it seems to be less well known than other late war US types. So let’s take a look at an outstanding aircraft.
The Hellcat was an original design that bore a superficial resemblance to other Grumman Company products. It was built for the same order that generated the F4U Corsair; and the Hellcat actually outperformed the Corsair in every critical aspect except top speed and rate of climb. Most significantly, it handled far better, especially at low speed. But it was also engineered to be far more rugged and easier to maintain.
Make no mistake, the Corsair performed very well for the Marine Corps, and the Navy would later come to want Corsair squadrons as their speed and rate of climb made them better as pure interceptors for dealing with the Kamikaze threat. But the Hellcat would be responsible for 75% of all US Navy kills in World War Two and it had a 19:1 kill ratio over the Zero.
This particular Hellcat is from the Hasegawa kit with Aeromaster decals. It was based on the USS Princeton in 1944. I chose this particular subject because interesting markings on Hellcats can be hard to find. The Navy tended to discourage unofficial markings, and paint and markings were usually maintained to a high standard. Yet the Captain (or Air Group Commander?) of the Princeton chose to allow his fighter squadron to adopt this unofficial marking as the “Cat Mouths”. The squadron flew a mix of F6F-3s and F6F-5s in late 1944 with this marking. Sadly the Princeton would become the last American Fleet Carrier lost in action on October 24, 1944 when she was hit by a lone Japanese bomber. Those aircraft airborne at the time were recovered on other flat tops. And they all had their cat mouths removed in short order.